In the End, What Will Your Story Be?

street art work

 

By Ty H. Phillips

 

It is a common thing among the sick and dying that they look back on their lives with regret.

They spent the majority of their lives working and pushing for money, status, name and career, in order to save and enjoy the “golden years” of their lives. A more accurate way to say this would be, live miserably so that you can die comfortably.

Give up your life so that you can die and leave things behind.

Most people will read this opening and shake their head. We need to work because it’s our duty and our responsibility. It’s being a productive member of society, and how we take care of our families. Yet again, as that family member dies, money won’t hold their hand. Things will not comfort them as they move into the unknown. Like most, they will shake and whimper, fearful and in pain, struggling with thoughts of what they didn’t do and a family, children, friends and loved ones will all be left behind wondering why they weren’t worthy of more time.

The argument from those driven by work is the standard text.

We have bills to pay, things that need done, food to be purchased and yet, most of the bills we have are for things we neither want after we have them or don’t actually need. We give up the vast majority of our lives for the benefit of those in power, enabling them to live even more comfortably than they already do while the demand on our output becomes even more demanding and we in return get even less and less in reward.

I once lived a life of the near 100 hour work week. Working a full time white collar job, opening and running my own gym on top of that and being a bouncer Thursday through Saturday nights. I rarely saw my children or my family and when they did come, I was too busy coaching, training or marketing to truly engage them. They took a back seat to my goals, my career and in that mindset I mentioned how much I was sacrificing. The truth is, I sacrificed nothing. My family sacrificed in order for me to pursue what I wanted instead of what they needed.

After doing this rat race for years on end, I ended up having a near death experience. It was almost a certainty that I was not going to make it out of the other side of a severe heart condition. Coming out of this illness, I developed a severe anxiety issue, looking out on life with new eyes on the nature of reality and the fragility of life.

As luck would have it, this forced recovery, allowed me to raise my third daughter from the time she was six weeks old until her first steps through the kindergarten door.

It was life changing. Perspectives on money, happiness, goals, wants vs. needs and the whole realm of my existence changed.

It’s sad and almost amusing how many times I have heard that parenting or being a full time parent isn’t a contribution or how a real man needs a job and hard work and little rest. These same comments are from people who hate their lives, working on futility to ensure life isn’t lived in order to die in comfort.

Through all of this, I have learned to live simply, requiring little, spending less and engaging in life instead of dedicating myself to jobs I hate for people I don’t know, for things I don’t even need and won’t want moments after I have obtained them. I have come to value time spent in relationships and experience far more. I have begun to judge my life on its quality and moments of open simplicity.

It is sadly the case that most people will not understand this. I will be judged as lazy, escapist, a dreamer and yet by those very people who are unhappy in their own lives still struggling for the next promotion the next raise, the next vacation and all for what? Where does it all lead, for all of us in the end? We all end up at the same location, rich or poor, hard working or dreamer, pot smoker or coffee drinker—the earth calls us all back home.

Before you march off, giving the means of self sustaining and production back to the elite few, ask yourself what you want from your life. Where will it end, who will benefit, who will mourn and in the end who will be there holding your hand? What will your regrets be when it’s nearing its conclusion for you? Deny as we may, we all have to face the moment of ending.

What will your story be?

 

Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall

Comments

comments

Ty Phillips

Ty Phillips is the co-founder and director of The Tattooed Buddha. A former big city bouncer, now pacifist Buddhist minister, and writer he spends his time counseling youth and hard to reach adults in peaceful and engaged means. Using his past as an example, he is able to engage those who would otherwise probably not seek out and relate to dharma teachers. Ty is a contributing author for The Good Men Project, Rebelle, BeliefNet, Patheos and The Petoskey News. He is a long term Buddhist and a lineage holder, as well as a father to three amazing girls and a tiny dog named Fuzz. You can see his writing at The Good Men Project, BeliefNet, Rebelle Society.
By | 2016-10-14T07:47:39+00:00 September 22nd, 2016|blog, Buddhism, The Ramblings of a Tattooed Buddhist|0 Comments